Lawmakers consider requiring businesses to accept tribal IDs
By STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A Senate committee gave full support Tuesday to a proposed law that would require South Dakota businesses to accept tribal IDs as proof of identity and age.
State law already requires banks and financial institutions to accept tribal IDs, but Sen. Troy Heinert, a Democrat from Mission, said he introduced the bill after hearing from tribal members that some businesses were not accepting their IDs for transactions such as cashing checks or purchasing tobacco and alcohol. Proponents said the proposed law would make it clear that tribal IDs are acceptable for all business transactions.
Jason Cooke, vice chair of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, said the measure would be one more step for tribal members to get full recognition by the state.
"The odds are against us all the time," he said, noting that business owners could refuse to accept tribal IDs to discriminate against tribal members.
Tribes in South Dakota have enhanced the security and information on IDs in recent years, adding dates of birth, addresses, and holographics. To get an ID, tribal members must provide a copy of their birth certificate to tribal enrollment officers, according to Heinert. The IDs can be used to go through security at airports and to verify identity at voting booths.
The House last week shot down an effort by Democrats to tack tribal IDs onto the list of documents people could use to register to vote in the state.
Heinert said voter registration was a separate issue to his bill, but that he was looking into other legislation that would allow tribal members to use the IDs for voter registration. The South Dakota Secretary of State would need to be able to verify voters' social security numbers with the tribal ID databases, said Heinert.
Lester Thompson, the chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, told the committee that tribal members who live in rural areas could find it difficult to get to county offices that administer state-issued IDs.
Representatives from several tribes said tribal members make significant contributions to the economies of many towns, and that they should be able to conduct business with confidence.
The South Dakota Retailers Association supported the bill after language was added to protect retailers who accept tribal IDs as proof of age for age-restricted purchases.
The bill will next be considered by the full Senate.